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No pay so oil spill cleaners down tools
Oil spill clean-up operations at Point Sable stopped yesterday as La Brea residents downed tools to demand payment for their services. Yesterday they blocked the entrance to the Point Sable beach, where clean-up operations are being co-ordinated, and vented their anger over the non-payment of wages. But Petrotrin corporate communications manager Gillian Friday, said: “As far as I know there was no protest.” In a telephone interview, she said: “We usually have issues with tides and sometimes they stop early because the tide impacts how they do the work and that has always been the case. I have had no reports of any protest action.”
She said the information she had was the contractor on site at Point Sable “took a decision to sort out payroll issues. It was not protest action, people had some concerns.” But spokesman for the La Brea residents Carlton Plenty, speaking with the T&T Guardian yesterday, said residents were fed up. “People getting violent too. We do not want to reach down to that but they making it worse because they bringing Petrotrin police to come out with guns and thing. Man coming out to do work,” Plenty said. He said Petrotrin promised to pay workers on Friday and while some were paid, others were short paid and some not paid at all. “Right now they owing 60 people and we getting shortpay. Right now it is real pain here. All them big boys come down and make promises but none of them live up to it and right now no work going on because residents refuse to work until they get pay,” he said.
Plenty said residents wanted a meeting with Petrotrin to resolve the outstanding wage issues. Alvin la Borde, president of the La Brea Fishermen Association, said clean-up operations at Coffee Beach and at the Aripero mangrove “are more or less at a standstill” as residents halted work. He said: “The residents were disgruntled this morning and they brought operations to a halt. Nothing cleaning up, residents stopped the work.” La Borde said the boat-owners completed cleaning the boats at Coffee Beach yesterday and, “we have to wait for the all-clear from the company to go back out.” He said all the boats were on the shoreline at Point Sable beach.
Even though Environmental Management Authority chairman Dr Allan Bachan said last week that Coffee Beach, La Brea, residents had been given the all-clear to resume cooking, they are still not allowed to cook in their homes. Yesterday, Friday said Petrotrin had not given residents clearance to resume cooking. “Meals are still being provided for the community. Before clearance is given we would have to inform them and then give them a couple of days before they start. It is the only humane thing to do,” she said.